ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — Nate Wolters’ rookie season is over, as the Milwaukee Bucks guard won’t return from a fractured left hand suffered last Thursday at Golden State.
The injury will not require surgery and is expected to keep him from basketball-related activities for three to four weeks.
"It kind of sucks, but I have to make sure I don’t get re-injured," Wolters said after Wednesday’s practice at the Cousins Center. "The best thing to do is just rest it for right now.
"I think I’ll be full strength and ready to go for the offseason. That will be nice not to miss any time that way."
Milwaukee’s second-round pick in this past June’s draft, Wolters averaged 7.2 points and 3.6 assists in 58 games and 31 starts for the Bucks this season. He shot 43.7 percent from the field and 29.0 percent from beyond the arc, but Wolters hit 45.5 percent of his 3-point attempts after starting 3-of-29.
A freak injury will prevent Wolters from playing in the final 13 games of his rookie season.
"You don’t want it to end like that, man," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "It’s just an unfortunate part of our business. The kid had a hell of a year."
Wolters came into the season as the team’s third point guard and wasn’t really expected to play much. But a back injury to Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight going down with a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the season opener thrust Wolters into the fire immediately.
He ended up playing more minutes than any other second-round pick from the 2013 draft and showed he’s certainly capable of playing in the NBA.
"It was a good experience," Wolters said. "We didn’t have as many wins as I would have liked, but I was able to get a lot of playing time. Hopefully it will get a little better next year.
"I didn’t really know what to expect (coming into the season). I wanted to compete for playing time, but coach Drew showed a lot of trust in me. It was probably more than I thought I was going to get."
Stephens joins the team: The rumored signing of D.J. Stephens to a 10-day contract became official Wednesday morning, as the former University of Memphis forward practiced with the team for the first time.
Stephens, who has an incredible vertical leap, can throw down a dunk with the best of him. The newest member of the Bucks didn’t waste time showing his leaping ability when practice was over.
"Boy, that kid has rockets in his shoes," Drew said. "He’s a high-flyer. He’s one of those guys from an excitement standpoint, the way he leaps, anything around the rim he has a good chance of getting. We want to get him acclimated with some of the stuff we do, and we want to give him a look."
Stephens has spent the 2014 season playing for the Greek club Ilisiakos where he averaged 9.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. His no-step jump was recorded at 40 inches and his max-vertical leap at 46 inches during pre-draft workouts.
D.J. Stephens, signed Wednesday by the Bucks to a 10-day contract, averaged 9.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game playing in Greece.
But just being a freakish athlete that can dunk isn’t the lasting impression Stephens wants to leave on the Bucks.
"A lot of people don’t even know what my position is," Stephens said. "I’ve seen people say that I’m a undersized center or power forward, but truly I’m a small forward. I want to show them I’m able to do the things a small forward can do, put the ball on the floor, knock down shots, knock down open 3s. I want to show them I can defend, as well.
"Right now everything everyone knows about me is my athleticism and how high I can jump. I want to show them the other parts of my game. I’m a complete basketball player. I’m not just my athleticism. I want to show everybody that so they can kind of get away from the athleticism thing."
The Bucks are trying to take a look at different players with the roster spot vacated by the buyout of Caron Butler. Both Tony Mitchell and Chris Wright were both impressive athletes, but Stephens might top them in athletic ability.
Drew and general manager John Hammond are looking to add more athleticism to the team’s roster going forward and there certainly could be a spot for a guy like Stephens going forward.
"When you look at our game, you see a lot of teams that are extremely athletic," Drew said. "It’s something we want to push more toward."
Stephens said he knew about two to three weeks ago that he was going to sign a 10-day contract with the Bucks, but the team brought Mitchell and Wright in before him as his season in Greece was wrapping up.
"I’ve known for a little while," Stephens said. "I’ve been working hard to come here and show the coaches that I belong at this level.
"Hopefully after the 10 days I can get extended, but right now I’m just focusing on the task that I have at hand. I’m just focusing on that and taking it one day at a time."
Ilyasova checked out: Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova was scheduled to see a doctor Wednesday to have his ailing right ankle further examined.
Ilyasova has been bothered by the ankle ever since spraining it badly in the team’s preseason opener. The Bucks have already said he won’t play in the second game of back-to-back games for the rest of the season and sat out Monday’s loss to the Clippers.
Drew hoped to find out more about Ilyasova’ status later Wednesday night and wasn’t sure if he’d be available Thursday against the Lakers.